BEIJING, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- North Korea and China have agreed to speed up the joint creation of two economic development zones in North Korea, observers said.
Jang Song Thaek, vice chairman of the North's National Defense Commission, has been in Beijing this week and has met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported Friday.
Jang made the trip as an envoy for his nephew, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Issues discussed included the economic development zones in North Korea.
Jang's mission was considered critical for winning economic cooperation from Pyongyang's key ally to help revive North Korea's stagnant economy, Yonhap said.
Jang's meetings with Hu and Wen could be viewed as demonstrating the strength of the two countries' relationships, observers said.
China places a priority on ensuring stability in North Korea, The New York Times reported.
"But China's unconditional economic support for North Korea has brought few political returns," Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, the International Crisis Group's China and Northeast Asia project director, said on the Web site 38 North. "There are indications that North Korea is stepping up uranium enrichment and expanding its arsenal of nuclear weapons."